A builder who killed a customer in a brutal hammer attack after “chronic” delays in building an extension to her home has been jailed for life.
Peter Norgrove was ordered to serve a minimum term of 15 years after admitting the murder of 58-year-old Sharon Gordon, who he left for dead with severe skull fractures.
Wolverhampton Crown Court was told that Norgrove, 43, was caught on doorbell and security camera footage before he killed Ms Gordon at her house in Bromford Road, Holly Hall, Dudley.
The recently qualified bricklayer, who met Ms Gordon through a mutual friend at the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall they attended, was paid £29,000 and agreed to build the extension within two months.
The court was told Norgrove, of Brownswall Road, Sedgley, West Midlands, admitted murder at a previous hearing.
He sat with his head bowed in the dock as Judge Michael Chambers KC was told that the married father had picked a child up from school and then led a Kingdom Hall service after the murder.
Passing sentence on Wednesday, Judge Chambers said the “brutal and savage” offence, involving eight blows to the head, was aggravated by a false statement Norgrove gave police saying his victim was alive and well when he left the property.
The judge told Norgrove, a former public sector worker: “You used a hammer to repeatedly strike her to the head.
“You were angry because she had continued to criticise you for your chronic delays and workmanship.”
The “rights and wrongs” of the extension over-run, which was more than a year behind schedule, were not matters for the court to determine, the judge said.
He added: “They do not provide you with any excuse, justification or mitigation for what you did.”
Ms Gordon was found dead a day after the killing by two friends who visited the property, having been attacked between 2.01pm and 2.21pm on July 20 last year.
Prosecutor Earl Pinnock told the court that camera footage showed Norgrove entering the property through the back door wearing rubber gloves.
Mr Pinnock told the court: “At 14.02 the Ring doorbell recorded noises. They last for a duration of 18 seconds.
“A female voice screamed momentarily and then shouted something inaudible.”
Footage recovered by police, which was issued after the sentencing, then caught Norgrove leaving the property with red marks on his trousers.
During sentencing, Judge Chambers said Mrs Gordon may have lived for up to an hour after the attack, and told Norgrove: “You went into the house, having put gloves on.
“You made no attempts to seek help.
“No sentence I can impose can put the clock back, nor should it be seen as any attempt to put a value on the loss of a human life.
“What was clear was by that Thursday, the 20th of July, Sharon Gordon continued to criticise you as to the delays and standard of your work. That clearly was the motivation for your anger.
“The principal aggravating factor is this was a brutal and savage attack in the victim’s home, using a weapon. She would have been no match for you.
“There was clearly an intention to kill.”
The court also heard that bloodstained items were found in a wheelie bin at a family address linked to Norgrove and further searches revealed a hammer hidden in a shed at the victim’s home.
Detective Inspector Damian Forrest, who led the investigation, said: “Mrs Gordon tragically lost her life following a violent attack by Peter Norgrove, which appears to have stemmed from him losing his temper after a disagreement over the work he was carrying out.
“Mrs Gordon’s friends and family have been deeply affected by her death, and while Norgrove has now faced the consequences of his appalling actions, our thoughts remain with them as they continue to grieve.”
Victim impact statements read to the court by friends and family members described the murder as an incomprehensible “atrocity” which took the life of a generous and kind woman with strong faith and values.
The victim’s daughter, Rhian Brown, told the court prior to the sentencing: “This man’s actions have changed my life forever.
“I am tormented at the thought of what my mum endured. Did she cry out for someone? Those thoughts are torture but I can’t get them out of my head.
“In her final moments she was faced with shocking violence from someone she thought she could trust. Nothing will ever restore or compensate for what we have lost.”